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Use Specifics to Beef Up your Corporate Brochure

by | Sep 29, 2008 | B2B Copywriting, Corporate Brochures | 0 comments

Does your company brochure leave readers asking, “Where’s the beef?”

I attended several trade shows this spring, which allowed me to pick up quite a number of corporate capabilities brochures. I was hoping to find some good ideas I could use in my own practice. Unfortunately, most of what I found were examples of what NOT to do.

And one of the biggest mistakes I saw repeatedly was a failure to give specific information.

Let’s look at an example. It’s an A4 trifold (a European “Slim Jim”) from an Italian machining and machine tool company. On the front cover at the top, are the company logo and name (an acronym whose meaning is never revealed in the brochure). The company tagline – (Company Acronym) Makes You Fly Toward Your Goal – is splashed across the middle. And a photo collage decorates the bottom. The back cover simply lists the company’s contact details and repeats the logo.

The other four panels each contain the same text: in Italian, German, French and English. Here’s the entire English text:

Company

Technology, talent, quality and professionalism are (Company Acronym) strenghts [sic], a firm with a state-of-the-art production of components and services for the aerospace industry.

Always ready to satisfy our customer’s demands, (Company Acronym) counts with professional and experienced staff, capable to offer a precise service, in every phase of the activity, from planning to production.

Our areas of activity

Engineering, Manufacturing engineering, Tool design, Production, Tool Fabrication, Assembly, Surface treatments and industrial tests, Inspection, Manufacturing Planning and Control, Experience.

Was that painful for you? It sure was for me. Let’s look at what the author could have done to alleviate that pain.

The Dough is in the Details

“Advertising persuades us by giving specific information about the product being advertised,” writes Bob Bly in The Copywriter’s Handbook, and the same holds true when you’re advertising your company. “The more facts you include in your copy, the better. Copywriters who don’t bother to dig for specifics produce vague, weak, meaningless copy.”

So don’t make vague claims of “excellence”, “expertise”, “experience” and the like. Anyone can make such claims. Instead, make specific claims that set you apart from your competition. And then back those claims with specific details, numbers and examples.

For example, the copywriter for that Italian machining company could have begun with something like:

‘Today’s aerospace market demands increasingly higher performance, better fuel efficiency and greater cost-effectiveness. That means parts have to meet increasingly higher tolerances at significantly lower scrap rates.

‘At (Company Acronym), we specialize in producing extremely accurate shafts and parts that incorporate precision threads, gear teeth and splines, all to tight specifications. Our expertise in the use of self-centering steady-rests, for example, allows us to routinely meet tolerances within 0.00005″…with scrap rates below 0.01%.

‘Our ability to meet such demanding specifications – and an unblemished on-time delivery record the past three years – has resulted in our being awarded sole supplier status by Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop-Grumman and others, for more than 200 different aircraft parts.’

Of course, this example is entirely fictitious. But put yourself in the shoes of an aircraft parts buyer for a moment and compare it with our opening example. Which brochure would you rather read? Which company would you rather do business with?

Vague, unsupported claims are just that – puffery, hype. They make you sound like you’re boasting. Being vague also makes you seem evasive, gives the impression that you might not be trustworthy. Specific details prove your claims and make you appear honest, professional and precise.

But most of all, specific facts make your story more interesting and compelling. “If those who have studied the art of writing are in accord on any one point,” write Strunk and White in The Elements of Style, “it is this: the surest way to arouse and hold the attention of the reader is by being specific, definite and concrete. The greatest writers – Homer, Dante, Shakespeare – are effective largely because they deal in particulars and report the details that matter.”

Details will draw your reader into your brochure and make him want to find out more. That will eventually make him pick up the phone or go to your website to get still more information. And at that point, your reader becomes a sales lead.

Take-Away Point

In your corporate brochure, and in all of your marketing communications, be specific. Specifics sell.

A Little Extra Added Value

Bonus Tip: If you’re getting ready to update your company brochure, be sure to check out Classy Outfit…Classy Brochure? by master copywriter Bob Bly, author of Business to Business Direct Marketing, and more than 50 other books.

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And if you’d like help with writing your next corporate brochure or other marcom project, please don’t hesitate to call me for a complimentary consultation and price quote at (+39) 011 569 49 51. Or email me at info@CopyEngineer.com.

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